Houston pitchers and catchers report in less than six weeks. The Astros’ first spring game is less than eight weeks away.
If you’re dissatisfied with or you’re getting frantic or concerned about the roster and/or lineup, remember this: After January 14, 2015, the Astros.
- Acquired Evan Gattis from the Braves.
- Acquired Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena from the Cubs.
- Traded Carlos Corporan to Texas.
- Signed free agent Colby Rasmus.
- Signed free agent Roberto Hernandez.
- Signed free agent Joe Thatcher.
Obviously, the off season is still fluid and what you see now will likely not be what you get next month or opening day.
Soon, however, those fearless prognosticators will begin to fearlessly prognosticate. The Astros will not have the surprise advantage they did in 2015 and, in fact, some have already gone out on the limb expecting the team will maintain and even improve its standing in 2016.
About a month ago, MLB Reports predicted the Astros will have a one-game improvement, which would be good enough to win the AL West by five games over the Rangers. Michael Laudick has also predicted a division championship for the Astros.
ESPN.com is even projecting George Springer as a 30/30 guy for 2016. And that was after the way-too-early MLB power rankings showed the Astros in the 11th spot, two spots ahead of the Rangers.
Of course, many of these predictions for the Astros and other teams don’t take player movement into consideration. For example, the Astros have strengthened their bullpen considerably, diminishing their depth in the process.
With all that in mind, here are a few early, early predictions.
- Surprise player of 2016: Valbuena.
- Breakout player of 2016: Springer.
- Bomb of 2016: Rasmus, considering his $15.8 salary.
- First baseman with most games in 2016: Anyone not named Singleton.
- Regression of the Year: Lance McCullers Jr.
- Best move of the off season: Not yet made.
- Fearless prediction for AL West: Astros nudge out Rangers.
1. I hope you mean “positive” surprise. 2. Yes, with the only caveat – he needs to stay healthy. 3. Bomb – someone tearing up AAA that should have been on the team. 4. Agree 5. LMJ scared me with the last game before he went back to the minors to save his arm. He looked terrible. Other than that, he was a competitor even without his best stuff and the umps not giving a rookie a break. 6. Lets hope it is Gattis again ( or he becomes the surprise of 2016). 7. 3rd behind the Angels and Rangers. (Reason, those teams have a couple players each that can carry the entire team for a few games when they get hot. The Astros are a solid team but do not have that over the top player with that ability displayed yet.)
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Good point 45′, McCullers didn’t get too many calls last year.
I like the confidence some writers have that the Astros will beat out the Rangers this year. That will have to happen head to head, though, in real games. Pitching- wise the teams look to be about even – if we assume no regression from or injury to our guys. But we can’t have our starters collapse against their tough lineup like Kazmir, McCullers, Feldman and Fiers did at various times last year. And we have to find some hitters other than Altuve who can not look foolish against Darvish and who can put away Hamels early.
Offensively we look to be a little better than the Rangers at the first three positions in the batting order; unfortunately, as things are projected right now they look to be pretty significantly better than us at 4-9. Historically, as we all know, it is during the at-bats of the 4-9 hitters that most runs are scored. Last year our 4, 5, and 6 hitters were . . . below average [Gattis,Valbuena, Gomez, Rasmus] to horrible [Carter]. If we are going to overtake the Rangers, as the writers quoted above suggests, we will need 4, 5 and 6 hitters who hit over .250, with OBPs over .325, and two of which have a combined runs scored and RBI composite of 160 or higher. White, Reed and Tucker could probably get us there if they get the chance – but based on last year’s performance at least, for anyone to expect Valbuena, Rasmus, Gomez, or Singleton to do that – or anything close to it – is just wishful thinking.
If you count Stassi [15 ABs], we have 5 returning position players who hit over .250. One of those is our back-up catcher; one is our super-sub. The other three are our 1-2-3 hitters.
If you count Singleton [47 ABs] and Stassi [15 ABs] we have 5 returning position players who recorded OBPs of over .325. You know who the 3 regular players are. Not one of our 4-5-6 guys last year came close.
Of course, we had zero players on our team last year whose combined total of runs scored and RBIs exceeded 160. It takes a hero in the heart of the order to do that, and we really need one to step up. So I say, as the BA, OBP, B.A.R.I.S.P, runs scored, and RBIs of our 1B and 3B go for us in 2016, so will go the Houston Astros.
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I think the surprise of the year will be who breaks camp at first base. Hint: I don’t think he is someone who rolls his own.
I think the breakout player will be Mike Fiers. On a good team with run support, I think he learns to trust his stuff and excels.
Regression of the year will go to Will Harris, who will still be good but not lights-out great.
I think the best move will be picking up Giles. The depth of our bullpen is amazing right now. When you consider Josh Fields is our 6th best reliever, that’s a deep pen.
Finally, I think a full year of Correa and Springer plus improvement from not having abnormally low BABips for Valburna and Gattis push the Astros to the 92-95 win range.
Chip – I don’t think the Astros will make as many moves as they did last year at this time, because they don’t need to……however, I rarely am right in predicting what the front office will do. We do know that Luhnow will be looking to see if there are any bargains in the FA market after a lot of the money has been spent by others and there are more people than interested buyers left in the market.
◾Surprise player of 2016: I like Valbuena as the surprise player – I think he could be much improved over 2015. That babip of .235 last season seems ridiculously low.
◾Breakout player of 2016: Springer – I agree again – the guy showed us tremendous power in 2014 and a lot better BA and OBP in 2015, now he needs to combine those things and do it over 150+ games.
◾Bomb of 2016: Jon Singleton – though he may bomb before ST is over
◾First baseman with most games in 2016: AJ Reed (OK I’m dreaming, but it is my dream)
◾Regression of the Year: Collin McHugh. No way he gets 19 wins this season in my mind
◾Best move of the off season: Letting Chris Carter go???
◾Fearless prediction for AL West: Astros come in second in the AL West and are the second wild card team
The problem with Valbuena is the low BABIP isn’t out of character, it’s a trend. He is pretty consistent with it. Some BABIP is luck, some BABIP is just about being able to square up pitches more often. I don’t expect much improvement from last years numbers, we just have to decide if last years numbers are worth 4.2 million. If we can get a little lucky, and he moves that BABIP north of .250 for a year he could give you a .330 OBP and give us a passable year, but he is not a long term answer. He can pass as long as he continues to walk north of double digit percentage and isn’t too expensive. At least he can play some D.
Well, in the last 4 years he has had two poor babip years (2013 – .233 and 2015 – .235) and two acceptable or better years (2012 – .260 and 2014 – .294). So he can do better, but it is not a certainty I admit.
Pretty sure .300 is around league average though.
I think what Dan is saying, and correct me if I’m wrong, Dan, is that last years BABIP was low even for VB. Thus, it is plausible to expect an improvement, even north of .250, in his BABIP, which should result in a better season from him. In addition, last year was his first year in the A.L. He will have a little more familiarity with the pitchers going into this season. I think VB is due for an improvement in 2016, but I do agree with you, and I’m sure so does Luhnow, that he is not the long-term answer at 3B.
I think Valbuena is more susceptible to defensive shifts than some other guys. Most of what he hits on the ground is going directly into a shift. Not going to see many base hits that way.
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It wasn’t really lower. It was on par with most of his seasons. He has two blipish seasons at +.290 but most of the time, in any season he got 300 or more plate appearances, he goes between .230 and .245, with last year being a normal year of .235.
His ability to draw a walk though makes him more valuable then say a Gattis, and you can’t replace everyone at once, so I am fine with Valbuena playing 3B this year. I’ll stand by my stance that he is no long term solution though. He may very well post a decent BABIP this year, and give you something like a .250 avg with 25 HR, in which case he should put himself cost wise out of a job, because it would be more likely that he is back to hitting .220 the year after than maintaining a .250.
I don’t know that Valbuena is any more susceptible to shifts than other players. His pull rate is still under 50%, though between the left and center he is susceptible at a combined 74%. I still don’t know that 74% is enough for teams to abandon their 3B completely, but I know they did that to him a lot last year. What he is susceptible to is the upper cut swing and useless fly balls – 46% of the time.
1. Surprise: Springer. Last two years, right before getting hurt, he was CRUSHING balls and showing a smart approach with RBI singles up the middle and the other way. When he came back he had no strength in one arm but showed he is the sparkplug with BBs and some of the best baserunning we have seen since Bagwell. I think he cleans that area up in 2016 and reduces the errors due to aggressiveness, shows big power, and leads the team with enthusiasm.
2. Oberholtzer. I think he wins 12-14 games for a young club in Philly. That’s probably his peak though.
3. Appel. Not a good ballpark fit…but it is someone else’s problem. If it has to be an Astros player I say Singleton or Fields.
4. White. I think he ends up doing what Tucker did in 2015 and grabbing a shot in May. Reed likely struggles until May and ends up in AAA all year as a result.
5. Hard not for Harris to regress. He was amazingly effective in the first half last year. Maybe the healthy bullpen allows him to continue pitching without being overused…but I doubt Hinch rolls that way.
6. Not signing David Price.
7. Probably comes down to Angels, Astros, Rangers and is decided in final series again.
I apologize for going off subject briefly but I missed the previous post where OP had the link on the hack. I am not a conspiracy theorist by nature, but hey, the old Houston Buffs were the first minor league team that had a major league daddy. Who? Why, the St. Louis Cardinals of course. The Buffs morphed into who? Why, the Colt 45s of course, and then the Astros. Jeff Luhnow was previously scoutmaster for who? The St. Louis Cardinals of course. He is now GM of who? The Houston Astros of course. Are the Astros totally surprised and gape-mouthed by what happened? I don’t know. Is something else going on here? Just sayin’. And do I know what I’m sayin’? Nope.
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Surprise player of the year- Tyler White
Breakout player of the year-Preston Tucker, It’s his second try at this level.
Bomb of 2016-Singleton
First Baseman with most games-Reed
Regression of the year- Gregerson
Best offseason move-Protecting Musgrove
Astros bring up the youth and win the AL West by three games with 90 wins
#1 I think the surprise player of the year will be our center fielder from the Milwaukee trade. He will be playing for a new contract and I can see him returning to all star form.
#2 I agree that Springer will be the breakout player. I also see Castro improving on his .211 batting average signing a new contact with the Astros.
#3 Bomb of the year: Obvious to me would be Singleton if the Astros foolishly allow him to start the season at first. Hopefully, Luhnow has, like Singleton been blowing smoke rings to hopefully trade him for something (anything). I expect Rasmus to have another year about like last season, even though he’s playing for a new contract also.
#4 My heart says Reed. My intellect says the Stros will hold him in the minors as long as possible for team control. I dream of him being our Joe Adcock that bats behind Mathews and Aaron (Correa and Springer).
#5 I think McCullers is going to get better and better (god help the other teams if he develops a plus changeup) I don’t think Keuchel can improve on last year. I think if there’s a regression, it will be him or McHugh.
#6 Best move of the year: Not trading any of our top prospects and letting them filter in, in a natural manner, then trading who they beat out.
#7 I think the Astros will be in a dogfight with the Angels and Rangers again and will the division by a couple of games. I think Prince’s body will start breaking down at midseason and Pujols will also digress. I think the Astros will win 94 games if they bring up White and Reed and when Feldman goes down with some injury, they bring up Musgrove.
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Enjoyed the blowing smoke rings comment!
I also think Gomez will be the surprise player of 2016, but, of course, I have G.A.S.(Gomez, not Gattis) and that may be why I feel this way.
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* Surprise player of 2016 – Fiers
* Breakout player of 2016 – Tyler White
* Bomb of 2016 – Gattis and Gomez [tie]
* First baseman with most games in 2016 – Singleton
* Regression of the Year * Marwin Gonzales on offense, and Will Harris pitching
* Best move of the off season * – not signing Scott Kazmir for anything close to what he signed for with the Dodgers
* Fearless prediction for AL West * – Rangers win it again. Astros and Angels go back and forth for 2nd, with with a scare at one point in the season from the Mariners
Well played – your two selections for bomb of the year could potentially flame out and entirely disappoint, but should also be in the running for longest / most impressive home runs hit.
I started to say that Fiers would break out, but I figured if I did someone would call the fire department and I might be charged for turning in a false alarm.
But just for the record, I am figuring on Carlos Correa for the longest home run in 2016 hands down. That young man can smack the ball a long ways.
I like your consistency. If Gomez and Gattis bomb and Singleton stays on first, Luhnow will stick with them longer and that will hurt the team’s chances to win the division. That accounts for your AL West conclusion.
My version has Luhnow waking up early and realizing what a mistake he made keeping low production veterans and then he fixes it. Your version has him not willing to jettison the high paid guys, thus blowing the season. Your scenario is very likely. If your version plays out, Luhnow will have wasted one year of the careers of the Astros’s great value players, Altuve, Keuchel, McCullers, Springer and Correa who have been all much better than their salaries.
OP1, I like your version a whole lot better. I am just reading Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch a substantial number of bricks short of optimally.
And I am gauging off of the way last year those two stuck with Gattis [596 PAs, 2nd on team behind Altuve], Valbuena [484 PAs, 3rd on the team], Villar [keeping him at SS, and Correa in the MLB, despite Villar’s horrible string of errors upon replacing Lowrie], and Carter [5th highest PA total on the team], AND how they marginalized Preston Tucker in the process.
Tucker realizes he’s been marginalized, as he stated in that interview with Climbing Tal’s Hill. Who would have thought he would be blocked by a zero WAR performer who stands to make seven times what Tucker would make this year, especially when the Astros have been waiting for him to make it since he was drafted in 2012? The Astros are stuck with Gattis’s arbitration salary, because who is going to trade for a guy who hit .240 as a DH and cannot play anywhere on the field. and who is making over $3mil in his 1st year of arbitration.
Bottom line is: the Astros figure that all their older guys are going to improve, all their younger guys are going to improve and all their prospects are questionable. How’s that for confidence in your minor league system?
Boy, there’s a lot of stuff already written above that I agree with! First off, I already committed myself to a 97 win season a few weeks ago. That’s how good I think this team will be. And I’m fully in line with Springer having his breakout year. Don’t forget that he managed to lead the team in OBP. I just want to see him hit in the third or fourth slot. That’s where he belongs ultimately. Brian and Mr. Bill, I agree with Fiers too. I’d have considered White, but I don’t think Luhnow will give him much of a shot against Gattis until later in the year. That’s why I keep hoping Gattis opens the season with a slight hamstring injury and on the 15 day.
Singleton is my bomb. I really think our GM lets it happen. Chip, I’m not worried about Rasmus. He’s another one playing for a big contact, seems happy here and just might be a late maturing guy. He showed some leadership late. We’re going to get that solid OPS from him again and some of the best left field defense in the league. And Gomez, assuming he’s healthy, also has a much better year playing for a long term deal.
As 1OP notes, I too have no worries about McCullers. He now knows where he’ll be starting the season, controls his own destiny and is simply a tough, tough competitor. The pitch count will improve as he continues to gain more confidence.
I think it would be great if the best move of the off season has not yet been made. But I don’t want to lose another batch of young talent at this point. I’d take another starter with a short term deal, but I think we’re okay if it does not happen. I don’t want to see a huge deal to fix first base. We’ve already got a guy almost ready to go for that spot.
I’d like to think that 97 wins takes the division, but even with that, I’ll be disappointed if the 2016 squad does not go deep into the post season.
On a regression/succession note. One stat that intrigues me is BABIP. Not questioning its existence nor its importance. But if a batter swings with an upper cut, he will send more balls in the air (and over the fence) but he will lose those “tweeners” for base hits. So a batter with an upper cut (example Gattis has a very respectable contact rate of 70% +/- but he pops up or rolls over on a lot of his contact. Same is true with LB) the defense will get under a lot of your fly/pop outs.
Not advocating but not forgetting either, Harry the Hat got Alou to swing down on the ball and his average took off.
Well if it can be corrected by a hitting coach, then our crack staff will take care of it. I’ve been trying to think about anybody who I thought improved hitting during the season. Maybe Rasmus? And maybe that is because he ignored the hitting coach??
Yeah, you have to factor in the percentages of balls on the ground, in the air, and line drives by a batter before you can think about BABIP telling you a player was unlucky. A guy like Hunter Pence gets a lot of hits on balls on the ground, but a guy like Gattis lives almost entirely off line drives. If a player’s LD% is essentially the same as in prior years but his BABIP is wildly different you can safely say there was luck playing a large role in the results. If the LD% is greatly changed you can look at injury or approach changes being the major factor(s).
BABIP is almost always one of the first places I go to look at a guy. It gives you a good pattern. If you see a blip on the pattern, up or down, you can look for regression/bounce back candidates. Lots of people predicted Valbuena as a break out candidate, but if they had looked closely at BABIP they would have noted that the consistent sub .240 averages are just what he is.
The stats suggest Gattis was swinging down on the ball last year though, not up. He set career worsts in GB rates. His FB rate was down. His pull rate dropped nearly 10%. I think he is listening to coaches, I just don’t think he is very good at pitch recognition, kind of swings through things, gets a few good contact hits, jacks a few, but overall just isn’t the best guy to have in the middle of your lineup. His poor pitch recognition is why he doesn’t draw walks, so when he decides to have a 2-24 stretch he does nothing to help you – and can hurt with his contact rate and ground ball rate – as evidenced by 13 GDP’s.
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You can bet he is going to regress in hitting triples, that’s for sure!
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A couple more notes. Apparently no one thinks Castro will move out of the 9th spot in the batting order and we may be the only team that our 1B and DH “earned” the 7th and 8th spots. Plus I am positive Gattis will have a regression in triples but to give him credit Steamer predicts he will have 1 stolen base – so there is an improvement.
I suck at predictions. But I will sing the same old song we are all singing together. Fiers is a good candidate for break out. The statistics suggest good stuff. Confidence is a major part of this game, and that no-no may push him into believing himself a top notch guy. I think he can win 15 with this team. Last year his walk rate was over 3 the first time in his career. He is entering a prime year at 30 without the mileage, his velocity has actually climbed as he has gotten older. There are a ton of indicators that suggest he could have his first 200 inning season and 15 wins.
Everyone probably wondered why give up Phillips and Santana for Gomez, but in reality, Gomez will be better, but Fiers may end up being the reason that trade is a win.
Springer entering into the elite RF’ers in baseball is my plan B for a breakout.
I don’t really know what to say about Singleton. As a fan I want him to succeed, it only makes the team better. The guy has 420 plate appearances at the MLB level where he has been beyond horrible. He has combined a poor BABIP with an incredible strike out rate that is flat out scary bad. Can he get better? Sure, I think that’s why he is still here, but he isn’t 19, he is 24. He is walking into the most important ST and first 2 months of a baseball season in his life. Hopefully, he treats it that way. Imagine he starts on fire, that he hits .270 (scary that is on fire for someone) and socks 10 HR in the first 2 months, and starts too look like he can be something, and gives us options. I have zero faith in any long term success for this guy, but if you can sell him hot, and move into what should be your future DH in White and 1B in Reed, and get a good BP piece in exchange for Singleton, sounds good. Keep in mind anyone can be good for 2 months, ask Chris Johnson who makes a routine out of it.
That said by the end of the year Reed ends up with the most ab’s at 1B but they wont start until June. I’m not predicting that Singleton will be good enough to be tradeable or not, only that I hope that he is. Rasmus will be a bust that he is not worth 16 mil. Regression could be Gattis because of injury – history there.
Hard to make the fearless prediction when you fear that you are wrong. It’s early. Not everyone has settled. I’m going to say Astros at 88 wins and division champs, there are enough holes in almost everyone in the division to think that any team winning 90 in the AL West will have to be from stars aligning for them – possible for the Rangers and Angels both, just think our youth gives us a little advantage in durability.
Steven, I think Fiers does indeed balance the trade, but I still think Santana ends up having a successful career as a corner outfielder. He’s still quite young and I like his OBP/OPS even with the strikeouts at the ages or 21 and 22. I wish he would have gotten those same 420 ML at bats with us that Singleton has already seen.
◾Surprise player of 2016: Gomez. He will remain healthy, in his prime years and a contract year. He will be a 20 HR/25 SB player for the Astros in 2016.
◾Breakout player of 2016: Springer. I agree on this, if he remains healthy.
◾Bomb of 2016: I will concur with most of the other bloggers and say Singleton.
◾First baseman with most games in 2016: This could be someone not on the 40-man roster. Morneau is still available and can be had on a 1-year contract.
◾Regression of the Year: Either Harris or McHugh.
◾Best move of the off season: Trade for Giles and non-tendering Carter.
◾Fearless prediction for AL West: Astros win the division by 3 games over Texas. I think the Angels will finish below Seattle in 4th place and may get overtaken by the A’s.
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If McHugh “regresses” but still wins 15 games, is anyone really going to complain? I’d ask the same question about Keuchel. Say he wins 17 with a 2.95 ERA, I’m pretty sure I don’t care as long as Fiers and McCullers are winning 12-14 games apiece.
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There were 5 complete games by SPs last year. The key was the vast improvement in the bullpen last year. I hope these notes about regression in the bullpen do not happen because we need for them to be as good in 2016 as last year. Giles should help but MLB is played with team pitching these days. Even with 2 pitchers with over 200 innings, they completed only 3 games between them. So we have to have the lead when the bullpen arrives and keep the lead until the end of the game. It will be much easier to do with a lineup complete with capable batters and good defense.
Brian McTaggart tweeted on Jan. 8 that Luhnow said Luis Valbuena would play every day, either at 3B or 1B, and that 1B is Singleton’s to lose.
With that in mind, here is the career MLB batting averages of the final 6 batters in the projected 2016 Astros lineup:
Carlos Gomez .260
Evan Gattis .250
Luis Valbuena .228
Jon Singleton .171
Colby Rasmus .245
Jason Castro .237
If you take a last-3-years sample of their BAs, those numbers don’t improve.
How does that look for a supposed WS contender?
My point exactly OP1 – especially when your team is in the same division as the Rangers. And unfortunately, if you choose to look at the same guys’ lifetime OBP, it doesn’t get any more encouraging:
Gomez – .314
Gattis – .296
Valbuena – .312
Singleton – .290
Rasmus – .313
Castro – .309
Just for comparison, Prince Fielder’s lifetime OBP is .387, Beltre’s is .337, Napoli is .355, and Andrus is .331.
I kind of expect that Gomez hits a little better this year. As much as I don’t think Singleton will succeed long term I certainly don’t think he will sit at .171.
On the flip side I would be surprised if Rasmus can maintain a .245 or Castro hits .237. I expect both to be more likely to hit .220ish.
I’m not disputing this, but how do you explain 2015? Carter was slightly better than Singleton’s career average, but Gomez, Gattis, Valbuena, Rasmus and Castro all hit below their career average and they were 6 outs away from a possible WS berth and even WS championship. You can still win championships with pitching, defense and power. As long as Singleton is removed quickly, which I think he will, I expect the offense to be decent enough to compete for the division.
So, we gave up 4 pitching prospect and Ober to the Phils for Kendall Giles, and Toronto got Drew Storen for an outfielder who has hit 4 HRs in six major league seasons and is a negative dWAR career fielder.
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In fairness, Storen is more expensive, on the last year of his deal, a bit of a malcontent, and doesn’t have a flashy nickname.
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And, although Revere isn’t a stud, he is more proven than anyone the Astros gave up, at this point. That is not to say they won’t prove themselves down the road, but Revere has already proven he can be, at least, a serviceable MLB player. He is a near .300 hitter with 176 SBs. Also, AF57 makes a great point as we should know by now not to discount the ‘throw-ins’ on Luhnow trades (Hoyt, Martes).
I don’t think Storen was a malcontent until Papelbon, the IED of relievers, happened.
We also got the short stop
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Wei-Yen Chen just signed with the Marlins… 5 years for 80 million. The Marlins did not have to give up a draft pick either.
He cost them a second round pick. Their first rounder (#7) is protected.
That’s what I meant.
They have a protected first round pick, but they do have to give up their second round pick for signing him.
Been busy taking tests, but I’ve been reading your posts. If I had my drothers, no one would regress, but they will….and we just have to watch it. I HOPE we get a full season of a healthy Springer, Gomez, and Correa! My prediction, is McCullers really steps up this year, and Brian is right, if McHugh only wins 15-16 games I won’t gripe!
I have a feeling Luhnow is in meetings as we speak trying to work out a deal for
Gallardo. Singelton got his last chance letter the other day when Luhnow said 1st base was his to lose. I have no idea what his off season routine is, but guys like White and A.J. Reed didn’t let any grass grow under THEIR feet. Jon has a decision to make…..dose he want to play pro ball or not. If so…..get your rear end in gear and get with the program. PERIOD. I see my oncologist on Thurs and will know what the next step is for me. Think good thoughts!
A.J. Reed will be on Astro line Thurs @7:00 on 790am thought you might want to tune in to hear what he has to say. I am!!
Here is an interesting comment I found at TCB today.
“The Fox/fangraphs article on plate discipline improvement by MLB hitters is interesting. Gattis made the most improvement in plate discipline in the second half (compared to both his first half and his three year average). As a result, his K rate and BB rate both improved. Rasmus made the most second half improvement in in-zone contact rate. This also produced an improvement in K rate over the second half.”
Just something to ponder and, possibly, gives credence to why Luhnow gave Rasmus a QO and has not abandoned the Gattis experiment yet.
surprise player – gomez
breakout player – springer
bomb – rasmus won’t be worth 16 million
1b with most games – singleton
regression – harris
best move – giles
fearless prediction – another down to the wire division race with a texas team taking the title. (astros)